Born on 29 January 1803 in Derbyshire, a county in the East Midlands of England, James Outram was the son of Benjamin Outram, a civil engineer. After he lost his father in 1805, his mother moved to Aberdeenshire in 1810.
Initially, James was educated at Udny, then at Mr. Esson's school in Aberdeen and finally at Marischal College in 1818. However, in the following year, he received a direct Indian cadetship and sailed for India in May in the ship York, in company with a fellow-cadet, who later came to be known as Major general Stalker. Upon his arrival in Bombay on 15 August, he was temporarily posted to the 4th native infantry, with rank as an Ensign, which is below the grade of a junior lieutenant.
He joined the regiment at Poona, came back to Bombay in September, when he was gazetted a lieutenant in the 1st grenadier native infantry. He joined the 2nd battalion of his regiment at Poona in December and was soon transferred to the 12th regiment on its embodiment at the same place and became acting-adjutant in July 1820.In fact, he joined the army of the British East India Company as an ordinary foot soldier and rose to the rank of a lieutenant-general, for his bravery, commitment and devotion.
After spending the golden period of his life in India, James Outram was compelled to return to England in 1860, due to his shattered health. He died on 11 March 1863, in Pau in the south of France.
The Outram Ghat, built by the British authorities along the eastern bank of the River Hoogly in the late nineteenth century, was dedicated to the memory of Sir James Outram for his contribution to the British Army in India. During those days, it was a crucial gateway to the city of Calcutta.
Constructed with colonial touch, it was used as a key port and the main anchorage for the ships bound to East Bengal and Burma. It was also a preferred terminal for many foreign cargo vessels and still today, a dilapidated customs office can be seen here. Apart from its utility as an important port of call, it was also a popular meeting place for the Europeans and the quintessential Bengali people.
Unlike the Armenian Ghat, Jagannath Ghat, Babu Ghat or Prinsep Ghat and others, built along the stretch, Outram Ghat does not have any structure or building, other than the broad flight of stairs that goes down to the river. Due to its advantageous location, the locals prefer the ghat for taking a dip. Its importance is highlighted especially during the festive seasons of Durga and Kali Puja, when lots of idols are immersed here.
After the completion of the beautification project of the riverside, undertaken by the civic bodies, the vicinity of the Outram Ghat has become one of the most beautiful riverside entertainment spots in Calcutta. A brisk or a casual walk along the two kilometer beautified paved stretch along the riverfront, soothes the body and refreshes the mind. It is a lovely spot for people to chill out during the sweltering summer evenings. It has also a unique floating restaurant. Facilities for boating are also available.